Promoting active ageing

As I enter the gym the gym on a regular day, a familiar male voice greeted me by the entrance.

“Eh young man, why you come? Go back, go back!”

It was Mr Danker. I stopped dead in my tracks, seemingly offended by what I have just heard. Visibly livid, I turned around and glare at him like I was about to explode. An uncomfortable tension begins to build as I await for the right opportunity to strike. Noting the blank expression he wears on his face, this represents the ideal moment. I erupt into uncontrollable laughter before he realizes that this was another silly joke of mine.

“Grow up lah, young man!” he wailed.

Mr Danker is the administrator for the gym. Already past his retirement age of 65, he continues to lead an active lifestyle like many elderly patrons who visits in the morning. He belongs to the group of ageing baby boomers today who are better educated, richer and healthier. On the one hand, they will have plenty of experience and energy for us to harness as opportunities, and on the other hand, their varying lifestyle choices will entail challenges for policy-makers.

All in all, there are 4 key thrusts towards an active lifestyle and well-being for the elderly. In order to encourage healthy lifestyles, the government has established elderly-friendly sports infrastructures and facilities to spur participation from the seniors. Community centres gyms (similar to the one  mentioned above) also offer discounts to elderly patrons. To promote social interaction, more public spaces have been constructed within housing estates and neighbourhood parks for the elderly to socialize. The National Wellness Programme launched in 2010 helps seniors to not only combat loneliness, but also to lead an active lifestyle. Learning and contributing opportunities-wise, community colleges are offering courses in language, literature, culture, life skills development etc to the elderly for personal interests and employability. Active senior volunteerism provides the elderly with a chance to contribute meaningfully to the society. The reading programme by the National Library for instance, provides seniors with such opportunity to conduct storytelling sessions to the children. Finally, in order to build stronger family ties, intergenerational bonding programmes initiated by communities bring seniors closer to their loved ones.

On top of these thrusts, voluntary organizations seek to promote positive attitudes towards ageing while the annual Senior Citizens Award serves to honour active senior citizens and model grandparents in the community.

To sum it up, the Committee on Ageing Issues (CAI) has produced a comprehensive yet realistic framework towards their objective of achieving “Successful Ageing for Singapore.” The past 5 posts have offered plenty of insights with regards to the committee’s approach to building an accessible elderly-friendly environment, a holistic and affordable eldercare system, as well as a blueprint for active ageing. Over the recent years, there has also been a slew of new developments in terms of infrastructures, facilities, policies and programmes which bring us closer to the target. Yet, more remains to be done while the ‘silvering’ of our population continues at a rapid pace. The “Many Helping Hands” approach is the way forward for Singapore, as only with a collective effort involving all stakeholders (government, people and private sectors, voluntary welfare organizations, media and academic members) can we stand a better chance of tackling such a sophisticated, diverse and cross-sectoral issue.

(Source: Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports: Committee on Ageing Issues)

(Image source: Teck Ghee Grassroots)

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